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Introduction to Statistics or Algebra?

  1. Jun 26, 2014 #1
    I've got some spare room in my fall schedule, so I'm looking to get an extra course in.

    My options are two introductory courses: Statistics and Algebra.

    Topics in statistics are: probability theory, random variables, marginal and condition distributions, discrete and continuous probability distributions, random sampling distributions etc...

    Topics in algebra are: Boolean algebras and lattices; factorization of polynomials; definitions of rational, real and complex numbers; rings, groups, fields, integral domains.

    I'm a physics major, however my program doesn't require any statistics courses. The major benefit of the algebra course is that it gives me the option of taking an advanced linear algebra course and subsequently a mathematics minor.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2014 #2


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    You will need both courses eventually. I'm curious how you got to college w/o studying advanced algebra in the first place. Your physics program may not require a statistics class, but how can you evaluate the quality of experimental results if you don't at least know the basics of statistical analysis?
  4. Jun 26, 2014 #3
    Definitely statistics. Algebra will be close to useless to you unless you go for mathematical physics. Statistics might help you since it provides foundational material that might help you in things like QM and stat mech.
  5. Jun 26, 2014 #4
    To be perfectly honest, I'm surprised by your second comment. No university I applied for (as a high school student and again as a mature student) had a requirement of the algebra course I described in their physics programs, let alone for entrance.

    I'm also just as surprised as thou regarding the lack of a required statistics course.
  6. Jun 26, 2014 #5
    You're right. Abstract algebra isn't and shouldn't be a requirement for a physics major.
  7. Jun 26, 2014 #6
    Would there be any major benefit to taking the upper-level linear algebra course that the abstract course leads to? I'll be taking a mathematical physics course in senior year, but I'm not sure how much that will cover.
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